When it comes to understanding views on YouTube, it’s important to get what a view really means. YouTube counts a view depending on whether the viewer initiated the watching of a video or not.
YouTube views may sound simple on the surface, but in reality, figuring out just what counts as a view on YouTube can be tough. If your goal is to gauge the success of your YouTube content by the number of views they have, or if you want to see how far along you are in the process of monetizing your channel or becoming YouTube famous, it can help you to understand how YouTube actually counts views.
So, how do they do it?
How Does YouTube Count Views?
YouTube wants to make sure that video views are coming from real people. That’s why a YouTube view is only counted when the following two criteria apply:
- A user intentionally initiates the watching of a video.
- The user watches it on the platform for at least 30 seconds.
If you skip through a video but the total time you spend watching is more than 30 seconds, the view will count too. If you watch for less than 30 seconds, it probably won’t.
Repeated views count up to a certain point (say, for instance, someone watches a video multiple times a day), but they stop counting at a certain number that YouTube has not specified. Experts believe that after 4 or 5 views in one day, YouTube stops adding new views to a video’s view count number. So, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just get your friends or team members to watch your videos over and over again, because the answer is, you just can’t.
But what about videos being shorter than 30 seconds? How can it be that they also accumulate views? Experts aren’t sure how much of one a user has to watch in order for it to count as a view. Keep in mind that the 30-second watch limit only matters because it is a factor that helps YouTube decide if a video is worth monetizing, and videos shorter than 30 seconds cannot be monetized.
Watch bots don’t work
Viewers must watch videos on YouTube in a realistic, logical way. This means that if an account is randomly jumping from video to video and watching each for 30 seconds, but the videos don’t seem to link in any way. This means they’re not created by the same user, or they’re not recommended in the recommendation engine. YouTube will then assume that the watcher is a bot and stop counting its views.
Other reasons for YouTube not counting views are:
- YouTube won’t count a watch from a user who leaves spam comments on videos.
- YouTube will not count the views of videos that are embedded in a page and autostart.
YouTube Live View Count
Today, YouTube doesn’t just have pre-recorded and uploaded videos that people can watch on their platform. They also have a live video feature, where users can watch people’s videos live streaming, in real-time. But do views from live streams count as regular views?
The answer is yes! YouTube counts live views, just like it counts the views of pre-recorded videos. Like all YouTube videos, the only prerequisite for live videos on YouTube is that they must adhere to the community guidelines in order to be allowed to stay up on the platform. So be aware:
Within 24 hours your YouTube live views might get adjusted when your viewers
- use the same IP across multiple devices at the same time
- open a lot of different windows and watch your video at the same time
- refresh the page after watching 30 seconds or less
This happened to Korean pop septet BTS when they released their single ‘ON’. Within the first 24 hours views decreased from around 83 million to 48 million. Still, the song became the biggest YouTube Premiere of all time, with 1.54 million concurrent viewers.
Avid YouTube users say that live videos are better used for generating interaction and engagement with your community and subscribers, and that edited and uploaded videos are a much better way to increase your view count or solidify your brand so you can start making money from your YouTube channel.
Why is YouTube So Picky About What a View is?
YouTube has had to be deliberate about how they count views because users have attempted—in a huge variety of ways—to scam the platform so that it looks like their video has been viewed more times than it has. Users try to falsify view counts because a high number of views can result in videos being monetized, or in promotion by YouTube itself.
To minimize the potential that YouTubers are falsifying views, YouTube has created a system to detect what’s a real view. While they are not completely open about the algorithm to detect a real view, there are some important facts that we know about view count.
When Does YouTube Verify That My Video is Real (and Awesome)?
There’s a tipping point on YouTube where employees at the company will look at the video and verify that it’s real and okay to be on the site. That tipping point is 301 views.
For years, a video would have a view count of “301+ views” when the company was verifying it.
Today, the view count continues to rise, but it’s still the point the folks over at YouTube HQ look at a video and make sure that it’s actually popular, not gaining fake popularity from bots or non-legit views.
After quality views are counted, view count updates more frequently. The process of including all quality views can take some time depending on a video’s popularity and viewership. Afterward, the view count updates more frequently, but keep in mind that we’re constantly validating views, so view count can always be adjusted. YouTube Help
YouTube View Calculator
To figure out if your account is monetizable now, you can use a tool like a YouTube view calculator. This calculator from Social Blade can help you see what your estimated CPM will be, as well as your estimated daily earnings, estimated monthly earnings, and estimated yearly projection.
YouTube Views Different in Analytics
The difficulty in how to count views is visible even in YouTube’s user interface. When looking at the view stats within YouTube it’s obvious that YouTube itself isn’t so sure either about how to count them. In fact, they are not sure
- which of your views are real or fake,
- which are worth counting,
- and which are worth displaying on the YouTube Watch Page or in YouTube Analytics.
Just see for yourself. Take one of your videos and give it a look across these YouTube pages
- YouTube Search,
- the YouTube Watch Page,
- YouTube Analytics,
- the new Creator Studio.
You’ll probably see that the view stats of your video slightly differ across these pages.
We’ve recently had a look at this with a video that we recently uploaded. At the EXACT SAME TIME, our video showed three different view counts across YouTube.
The highest views got displayed on YouTube’s Watch Page:
When looking for the same video in YouTube Search the video appears to have fewer views. Obviously, YouTube calculates and caches its search results at regular intervals. View data is supposed to be cached in different YouTube servers around the globe. This is done for faster response times. Every time a request is made for a video, the closest server provides the video and increments the view count in its local log.
These view count logs are then collated at fixed times and a central log is then updated.
The same applies to view count data in YouTube Analytics aka Creator Studio Classic. YouTube doesn’t show realtime view counts. Yet, at least the view count corresponds with the one we know from YouTube Search.
You might think that this number is the same in YouTube’s new Analytics tool. Interestingly it’s not. YouTube obviously features a third way of counting views.
So you see: It’s not that easy. YouTube itself doesn’t have one precise answer on the question of how many views your video has.
How Important Are Views As a YouTube Metric?
But are views really that important? Are views the best currency for measuring YouTube success?
According to the YouTube Creator Academy they are not. Not anymore!
In the past, views drove a video’s discovery and rank: that’s the total number of times anyone clicked “play” on a video.
But views only show the number of times a video player loaded, and not whether someone actually wanted to see it, or bothered watching. YouTube recognized that not all views were equal, and adjusted our ranking algorithm to better account for user engagement.
In fact, we’ve removed the views report entirely from YouTube Analytics and replaced it with watch time. YouTube Creator Academy
Legitimate YouTube Views: The Key to Monetization Success
At the end of the day, YouTube is an excellent way to grow the reputation of your company and expand your presence as an Internet star. To do that, you need to generate views—and these views should be legitimate. By learning what counts as a view on YouTube, what a legit view is on YouTube and how to get one, you can invest in the helpful, healthy ways to use the platform for marketing and promotion, and make sure you’re getting the best return for your time and efforts.